Undine – Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
‘Undine’ is a fairy-tale novella, written by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1777 – 1843). A true classic of the genre, it tells the story of Undine (a water spirit), who marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. It is an early German romance, which has subsequently been translated into English and many other languages. It was immensely popular on its initial publication in the nineteenth century, with The Times in 1843 describing it as ‘a book which, of all others, if you ask for it at a foreign library, you are sure to find engaged’. This popularity has continued into the present day, with the novella since inspiring numerous adaptations and off-shoots.
The book further contains a series of dazzling colour illustrations – by a master of the craft; Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). One of the most celebrated painters of the British Golden Age of Illustration (which encompassed the years from 1850 until the start of the First World War), Rackham’s artistry is quite simply, unparalleled. Throughout his career, he developed a unique style, combining haunting humour with dream-like romance. Presented alongside the text of ‘Undine’, his illustrations further refine and elucidate Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s enthralling narrative.